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LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla

Joomla plus LiteSpeed

For websites hosted on LiteSpeed servers, LiteSpeed Cache dramatically improves performance.

LiteSpeed Cache has been available for a while and there are ways this can be enabled in Joomla by editing your .htaccess file.

Since May 2018, LiteSpeed Cache is now much easier to enable and configure on Joomla 3.x websites by installing the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension from LiteSpeed.

Installation

The install package is installed normally via the Joomla installer and installs a LiteSpeed Cache Component and a LiteSpeed Cache Plugin which are both enabled by default during the install. The default settings seem reasonable.

The LiteSpeed Cache has some server requirements. if you're not sure whether your server complies, it's fairly easy to download the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension, install and verify whether it's working or not.

Testing

I have tested the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension on a few hosting plans and so far have found it works on:

I will add to this list as I discover other web hosting plans this works with.

From the few examples I have tried so far, web pages are typically loading three times as fast with the LiteSpeed Cache enabled.

performance improvement

Clearing the LiteSpeed Cache

The LiteSpeed Cache can be purged via Components -> LiteSpeed Cache -> Purge All LiteSpeed Cache.

More Information

For more information, see the following:

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.

Massive SiteGround Price Increase

SiteGround No Longer Recommended

After moving my own websites to SiteGround a few years ago and encouraging a few clients in the same direction, it has been very disappointing to discover that SiteGround have massively increased their prices on their shared hosting (and possibly other services).

The price of the SiteGround "GrowBig" plan, for example, has increased from AU$178.20 last year to AU$299.40 - a 68% price increase.

Unfortunately, SiteGround don't show GST inclusive pricing (in contravention of the Australian component pricing laws). Once GST is added, the GrowBig plan actually changes from AU$178.20 (what I paid last year) to AU$329.34 which is a massive 85% price increase.

This is a separate issue to SiteGround's deceptively low introductory prices (which revert to the full price when plans are renewed after the first year).

As far as I am aware there has been no blog post or other announcement and the first clients usually become aware of the price increase is when they receive their renewal notice four weeks before their hosting expires. This does not leave budget conscious customers much time to find an alternative host and also burdens them with the cost of the move if they choose to go elsewhere.

The official explanation seems to be that many new features have been added and the increase brings them to similar value for money as their competitors. I don't dispute any of this but surely new features could have been added as an option rather than forcing the features and resultant price increase on clients who may not need or use the new features? I suspect SiteGround have done their homework and many clients will grudgingly pay the increased price rather than work out how to move their business elsewhere as this does not seem like a trivial task to most clients (although it is usually fairly easy to do).

When searching for an alternative to the SiteGround "GrowBig" plan (which includes dynamic cache), the two most promising alternative hosting plans with a Singapore data center option are:

  • FastComet "SpeedUp" plan @ US$143.40 (annually billed)
  • A2 Hosting "Turbo" Plan @ US$251.88 (annually billed)

The FastComet plan looks promising. They have a 14 Day Free Trial (no credit card required) and a free virus and malware removal service. Like SiteGround, the price reduces if you sign up for more than one year.

The other option which might suit some of my Australian clients is to bring the websites home to Zuver or VentraIP and enable a CDN such as CloudFlare or similar. Another option to speed up websites and that works with the relatively new VentraIP "Starter", "Freedom" and "Premier" shared hosting plans is to install the free Joomla 3.x LiteSpeed Cache extension released in May 2018. This improves performance significantly so website visitors across the globe are still able to load web pages quickly even when they are hosted in Australia. For more information see: LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla. The VentraIP "Starter" plan @ AU$83.40/year with LiteSpeed Cache enabled performs as well as, and is a quarter of the cost of, the SiteGround "Growbig" plan @ AU$329.34/year with Dynamic Cache enabled.

I don't mind paying a little extra for a premium product and good service but the SiteGround "GrowBig" Plan @ AU$329.34/year costs more than nine times the Zuver "Web Hosting" Plan @ AU$36/year which is sufficient for many of my clients.

Although SiteGround don't seem to have made any official announcement, they are very quick to answer any complaints on social media including the post I made on the Webilicious Facebook Page (which only has about 100 followers!) and also a post I submitted to the Whirlpool Forums.

Clients who are still hosting their websites with SiteGround should check their renewal dates and plan accordingly.

Renewal notices are sent out 30 days in advance of renewal but credit cards are billed two weeks before the renewal date if you have Autorenew enabled. If you need a little more time to move the website, you can disable Autorenew by logging in to the hosting control panel and going to Billing -> Billing Settings:

Disable Siteground Autorenew

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.

A Complete Guide to Changing Your Joomla Website from HTTP to HTTPS

https

Why Change your Website to HTTPS?

Implementing HTTPS improves the security of your website and helps keep communication to and from the website secure.

Websites with HTTPS may rank higher in search engines.

HTTPS enabled websites show a padlock to website visitors so they are more likely to trust the website (especially if it is an e-commerce website) or a website that stores personal client data.

1. Enabling HTTPS

With the introduction of free SSL certificates (e.g. from Let's Encrypt), you may find that HTTPS is already enabled for your domain or it can be enabled in a few clicks in the control panel. Browsing to the https version of your website will tell you immediately if https is enabled or not.

SiteGround

  • Login to cPanel and click on "Let's Encrypt"
  • Check that the SSL certificate is already installed for the relevant domain
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

VentraIP Legacy Economy and Business cPanel Accounts

  • Log in to https://vip.ventraip.com.au and go to Shared Hosting -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> Let's Encrypt SSL
  • Click on "Install" to install the Let's Encrypt certificate for your domain, if it's not already installed
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

VentraIP Newer cPanel Accounts

  • Log in to https://vip.ventraip.com.au and go to Shared Hosting -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> AutoSSL
  • Click on "Start AutoSSL Check" to initiate the installation of the AutoSSL certificate for your domain and follow the prompts to complete the installation, if it's not already installed
  • AutoSSL certificates are automatically renewed

Zuver

  • Log in to https://my.zuver.net.au and go to Hosting Services -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> Let's Encrypt
  • Click on "Install" to install the Let's Encrypt certificate for your domain, if it's not already installed
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

Check that https is enabled by browsing to the https version of yuor website. You should see a green padlock or similar near the url in your web browser.

2. Joomla

Log in to the back-end of the Joomla website and set System -> Global Configuration -> Server -> Force HTTPS to "Entire Site".

3. htaccess

Redirect the HTTP version of the website to HTTPS by adding the following at the end of the .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

4. Fix Mixed Content

Update any remaining http links to https links so website visitors don't see mixed content warnings in their browsers. The following and similar tools can help identify remaining http links:

  • HTTPS Checker is a desktop application for Windows, Mac or Linux and the free version allows you to crawl up to 500 pages
  • SSL Error Checker is an online tool which checks a single URL
  • WhyNoPadlock is an online tool which checks a single URL

4.1 Akeeba Admin Tools

If the http links can't easily be changed to https (or there are too many to easily change manually), the links can be converted automatically to https using an option in the free or the paid version of Akeeba Admin Tools. This option can be found at Components -> Admin Tools -> SEO and Link Tools -> Convert all links to HTTPS when site is accessed over SSL.

4.2 Regular Labs ReReplacer

The free or paid version of Regular Labs ReReplacer can be used to change all https:// references in the source code to https:// although this is a fairly heavy handed approach and you'd need to check your website is still working as expected after implementing this change.

If using ReReplacer, you could use a link checker such as one of the following to check for broken links:

5. robots.txt

Update http:// references in your robots.txt file to https:// where appropriate.

6. Google Search Console (aka Webmaster Tools)

Add the https version of the website to Search Console and submit the https:// version of the sitemap. Remember to resubmit your site map for the https version of the website.

7. Google Analytics

Change the Property setting of the website from http:// to https://

8. Social Networks

Social Networks usually treat the https version of the website as a separate website so you may have to start from zero again with your "share" and "like" counts. This can sometimes be worked around by choosing an option in your social network extension (e.g. Fast Social Share) to continue to display the share and like counts from the http version of the website until you have collected sufficient shares and likes on the https version of the website.

9. Automatic SSL Certificate Renewal

Let's Encrypt SSL certificates seem to be valid for 90 days and should auto renew 30 days before expiry (at least this is the case on SiteGround). Unfortunately the renewal process sometimes fails. Let's Encrypt certificates are issued for the domain and also any subdomains associated with the main domain e.g. mail.domain-name.com at the time the certificate is created. If the subdomains change in any way during the life of the certificate, the original certificate must be manually cancelled in favour of a new certificate. Assuming your subdomains don't change, then the next renewal should go through as expected.

March 2018 Update:

SiteGround now offer free "wildcard" Let's Encrypt SSL certificates which probably fixes the automatic renewal failure problem.

Removing Unused Joomla Extensions

Benefits

Removing unused third party Joomla extensions has several benefits including:

  • performance improvement
  • reducing website maintenance
  • improving website security
  • reducing conflicts between extensions

There's usually no point removing unused core extensions as there may be dependencies that are not obvious and Joomla updates will likely reinstall these anyway.

Compiling a List of Third Party Extensions

Find which third party extensions are installed by logging in to the back-end of the website and checking for extensions with an Author other than "Joomla Project" at Extensions -> Manage -> Manage. (See below for an example).

Managing Extensions

Ignore the following extensions which are installed by default as part of the Joomla 3.x core:

  • beez3 Template by Angie Radtke
  • Editor - CodeMirror Plugin by Marijn Haverbeke
  • Editor - TinyMCE Plugin by Ephox Corporation
  • Hathor Template by Andrea Tarr
  • IDNA Convert Library by phlyLabs
  • Isis Template by Kyle Ledbetter
  • phpass Library by Solar Designer
  • phputf8 Library by Harry Fuecks
  • protostar Template by Kyle Ledbetter

You can also click on the "ID" column heading to sort by ID and in Joomla 3.x, the third party extensions start at ID = 10000. (Thanks to Tim Davis from www.cybersalt.com for this tip).

How to Check if a Third Party Extension is Being Used

Components

Installed and enabled components are generally found under the Components menu. Some Components are used in the back-end only (e.g. Akeeba Backup) and you will generally know if you are using these types of Components or not.

Components that are used in the front-end are often associated with a menu item so open each Menu and scan the list of menu items to see which components are in use. (See below for an example). You can probably ignore menu items that are disabled.

Menu Administration

Modules

You can see which third party modules are being used at Extensions -> Modules. (See below for an example). You can probably ignore modules that are disabled.

Module Administration

Note that menu items with no module position assigned may or may not be in use as these can be inserted into content using "loadmodule" syntax or similar. Modules can also be inserted into pages using a page builder such as SP Page Builder so don't assume a module with no module position can be removed.

You can find out if loadposition or loadmodule are being used by searching the website for "{loadmodule" and "{loadposition". If there's no search option published on the website, you can usually browse to www.example-website-name.com/index.php?option=com_search&view=search to show the Joomla standard search. If third party extensions for displaying modules are installed you may need to do additional searches. For example, search for "{module" if Regular Labs Modules Anywhere is installed.

Plugins

You can see which third party plugins are being used at Extensions -> Plugins. (See below for an example). You can probably ignore plugins that are disabled.

Plugin Administration

Templates

You can see which templates are being used at Extensions -> Templates. Templates that are not being used will show "Not assigned". (See below for an example).

Template Administration

Removing Unused Third Party Extensions

Before doing any changes, be sure to run a full backup of the website using Akeeba Backup or similar and copy the backup file off-site as a precaution.

Before removing an extension that looks like it is not being used, I recommend disabling it first and testing the website thoroughly to be sure that everything is still working as expected.

Once you are confident that the extension is not needed, then remove it.

Joomla Health Check

To find out how well your Joomla website is configured, order a Joomla Health Check for $90.

The Health Check includes:

  • check Joomla and third party extension versions
  • check Google is seeing the website as responsive
  • check website page load speed
  • check robots.txt
  • check free space
  • check backup is enabled and suitably configured
  • check web hosting configuration and suitability
  • recommendations on how best to address any discovered issues

Note that no changes are made to your website during the Joomla Health Check without consulting you first.

The cost of a Joomla Health Check is refundable if you purchase a 12 month Joomla Maintenance and Backup Subscription within 30 days of the check.

Joomla Maintenance and Backup Subscriptions

  Economy Business Enterprise
Monthly Cost $39 per month $69 per month $99 per month
Annual Cost $390 per year* $690 per year* $990 per year*
Third party extensions up to 10 extensions up to 20 extensions up to 30 extensions
Monthly Report Yes Yes Yes
Free initial security audit (valued at $220) Yes Yes Yes
Monitor new Joomla and third party extension updates Yes Yes Yes
High priority Joomla updates installed within 24 hours Yes Yes Yes
High priority third party extension updates installed within 24 hours Yes Yes Yes
Non-critical Joomla and third party extension updates installed quarterly Yes Yes Yes
Monthly off-site backups Yes Yes Yes
Non-critical Joomla and third party extension updates installed monthly No Yes Yes
Installation of web application firewall (e.g. Akeeba Admin Tools Pro) No Yes Yes
Weekly off-site backups No No Yes
Monthly malware scan No No Yes

* Pay 12 months in advance and get 2 months free.